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The thing about war

Illustration+by+Sofia+Barrera
Sofia Barrera
Illustration by Sofia Barrera

Every Sunday, I get a physical copy of the newspaper delivered to my house. It’s old fashioned (and probably wasteful to some extent), but I like feeling that I am preserving an old custom. 

I had already seen the videos of the bombings, the raids, and the hostages throughout the weekend, but the front page still brought tears to my eyes–missiles flying through clouded skies and men screaming in agony as they grappled with a terrifying reality. War had come, and no one had expected it.

Violence arrived in all forms: young adults being murdered at music festivals in remote areas of the Gaza desert, children’s bodies found outside ransacked homes, and innocent bystanders being taken hostage by terrorists. 

The horrific attack on Israel by Hamas, a radical Palestinian militant sub-group based in Gaza, began on October 7 after citizens had faced years of atrocious living conditions caused by Israeli blockades and strikes. 

Over the past 17 years, Gaza has become a prison full of indiscriminate killings and food insecurity. In 2006, Hamas won control of the area and has maintained tension at the Israeli border ever since.

However, it is important to make a distinction between Hamas and the State of Palestine. Hamas is a terrorist group that is leading the current attack on Israel. The State of Palestine is governed officially by the Palestinian Authority; Hamas controls the Gaza strip exclusively. 

Hamas has a blurry history that has left Israeli officials puzzled as to how they have been able to carry out such a large scale retaliation. Although there is speculation that Iran could be assisting the terrorists behind the scenes, the truth is, their capabilities come less from their artillery and more from long, pent-up anger.  

The root of this tension boils down to two things–land and religion. To put this intense conflict in simple terms, both Hamas and Israel want total control over the same region, which includes the Holy Land and West Bank, an area that holds immense religious significance for both Jews and Muslims. 

This long-waged war has taken everything from both sides of the conflict, most devastatingly, innocent lives. The next generation of youth in the Gaza strip, which accounts for 40% of the total population in the region, is essentially being wiped out.

But no agreement can be reached. Both sides lack trust that would be pivotal to share this territory. 

That lack of trust has deep roots in religious differences. After British control over Palestine ended and created separate Jewish and Arab states in the post-colonial Middle East, Israel declared its independence which sparked a full scale war in 1948. This distinction between states on the basis of religious practices set a harsh divide that is still felt today and continues to fuel this war. 

A one-state solution, the idea that both Israelis and Palestinians can just share this region, has been dismissed by several scholars as unrealistically utopian, which leaves many at a loss over what should happen next. 

A two-state solution has been tried before. In 1991, the United Nations created resolutions for a peace process that resulted in the basis for negotiations to separate the disputed territory amongst the Palestinians and the Israeli governments.  

The main issue with this resolution was that a lot less land was given to Palestinians than they needed. Many Palestinians retaliated against the treaties and war began once more. 

Furthermore, settlements housing over 700,000 illegal Jewish settlers are all over the West Bank. This has made the two-state solution virtually impossible due to political and religious divisions created over demographic shifts in the region.

Instead of seeing difference as an enemy, both Israelis and Palenstinians must call for a ceasefire and commence diplomatic negotiation. No political agenda should take innocent lives. 

Nobel prize winner and anti-war activist, Malala Yousafzai, released a statement on Tuesday with similar sentiments.

“War never spares children,” she said. “I think of the Palestinian and Israeli children caught in the middle.” 

Peace and treaties take time, and it could take another hundred years to create an agreement, but it must be done for the sake of preserving a new generation. 

We cannot endure another century of war. If we allow this war to continue, there will be no land left to dispute. There will be no more innocent lives to be taken. Gaza, and possibly all of Israel, will fall into silence, devoid of life. 

I can read a million articles and watch a million videos, but I will never understand why our world has continued to work counterintuitively against peace for so long. I know a lot about wars, but I do not know war. 

No one should have to. 

No child should have to know the smell of a missile with smoke trapped in their lungs every time they take a breath. No one should have to open the front page of a newspaper on a quiet Sunday morning and see what I saw last weekend, but even more so–no one should have to live it. 

And that’s the thing about war–it’s unrelenting. Sometimes, it’s never ending. But every day, we can wake up and hope for peace and a new front page, against all odds. 

 

 

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About the Contributor
Sofia Barrera, Opinion Editor
Sofia Barrera is the Opinion Editor for The Beat and was formerly a staff writer for two years. Covering Carrollton policy debate and global opinion topics, Sofia is passionate about promoting student journalism in an educational atmosphere. She was awarded an honorable mention last year at the Journalism Education Association Convention in San Francisco, California. Apart from journalism, Sofia is also the shadow president of Model UN, a business manager for the Solar Car Racing Team, and an alto in the school choir.

Comments (12)

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  • M

    Michelle LarreaOct 19, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Excellent article! Thank you Sofia.

    Reply
  • G

    Gabriel AlkonOct 16, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you, Sofia, for this excellent article. As a Jewish Christian with family in Israel, I am grateful that you have taken the time to try to understand this catastrophic tragedy. I find it consoling that students like you are taking the time to examine the situation for themselves, thoughtfully and patiently. I think our society encourages us to simplify issues like these and to demonize one side or the other. Many acts perpetrated by war-makers on all sides are indeed demonic, but still, the participants in this violence are just human beings shaped by a complex history — more complex than we are often led to believe. Your article helps us to consider and face this tragic situation.

    Reply
  • M

    Michele PattersonOct 16, 2023 at 7:59 am

    Excellent article Sofia! As a person who experienced firsthand the conflict in the Middle East, I can tell you that wars are a direct result of control and power by governments and other governing bodies that appoint themselves illegitimately. Closer analysis reveals anecdotal stories of individual Jews, Muslims, and Christians getting along with each other and forming strong friendships and connections. We all want peace.

    Reply
  • M

    Michelle M Berio CalderinOct 16, 2023 at 7:46 am

    Though at times it is inevitable, war always just sucks. Great insight on your part. Don’t ever stop feeding that flame of hope for a better world.

    Reply
  • P

    Paola ConsuegraOct 15, 2023 at 7:51 pm

    Lots to think about and pray about, well done.

    Reply
  • D

    Daniella RoosOct 15, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    Love the article! Very pertinent and accurate information.

    Reply
  • M

    Magaly ZaragozaOct 15, 2023 at 10:43 am

    Sofìa eres una persona aunque aún muy joven, cuentas con una gran e impresionante sensibilidad… no se diga lo bien documentada. Muchas felicidades, eres y serás una gran comunicadora!
    Magaly Zaragoza (amiga de tu hermosa abuela Piry)

    Reply
  • C

    Cecilia RangelOct 15, 2023 at 8:41 am

    BRAVO!!!

    Reply
  • D

    Dorothy AssadOct 14, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    Congratulations Sofia!!! Great article.
    The world needs more people like you.

    Reply
  • A

    Amelie Pupo-MayoOct 14, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    Tough read. Thank you for bringing this to light <3

    Reply
  • A

    AlejandraOct 14, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    thank you Sofia to give us hope as humanity and assume the responsibility of new generations to come.

    Reply
  • D

    Daniela de LopeOct 14, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    Beautifully written Sofia!

    Reply